Around the World in 31 Days: Belize

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It’s a look, isn’t it? This is the Xtabay (portrayed by actress Shelley Glionna).

A Belizean movie was available on YouTube, and I was overjoyed. Belize is a Central American and Caribbean nation I know little about, and in this blog project I really wanted horror movies from countries with little representation in international cinema.

I was even more excited to find that it was titled 2012: Curse of the Xtabay. Mesoamerican anthropology is a passion of mine. Imagine the things this could have brought together? 2012, an auspicious and apocalyptic year in the ancient, classic Maya calendar (and source of anxiety for many people during the exact year). Belize, with its amazing ethnic diversity and large populations of Mayan-speaking people. The Xtabay, a name only familiar to me because of Yma Sumac, the vocal powerhouse diva whose album, Voice of the Xtabay, is my favorite thing to play when I want some peace and quiet.

Some Googling of the Xtabay reveals the following (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xtabay):
La Xtabay is a Yucatec Mayan myth about the Xtabay. The Xtabay is a female demon originating from a Mayan legend who has ill intentions towards men.[1] She dwells in the forest to lure men to their deaths and, according to those that have escaped her, she possesses incomparable beauty and evil.[2] She has beautiful black shiny hair that falls down to her ankles.[3] The Xtabay resides in the Yucatán Peninsula.[3]

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Around the World in 31 Days: Iceland

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Movie poster. Source: IMDb

The excellent Icelandic horror mystery I Remember You was a tough watch. Not because there was gore or extreme violence. In fact it’s quite a beautiful looking film. But because in the story, there was a whole bunch of heartbreak showing through the pragmatic, Nordic stoicism of the characters.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Malaysia

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munafik 2

I’m delighted to be able to watch these horror movies from lands and cultures I know very little about. For Malaysia, Netflix was able to offer me Munafik 2. I have not seen Munafik 1, alas, but I still caught the gist of this entertainingly over-the-top religious rant. In fact, a quick Google reveals that “munafik” defines  hypocrite, or someone that professes to believe in Allah but truly doesn’t.

Munafik 2 felt to me like the equivalent of the U.S.’s Left Behind franchise. Continue reading

Around the World in 31 Days: Egypt

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Trying to get my hands on as much horror from African nations as I could, I saw the Egyptian film Warda on Netflix and proceeded to watch it. This movie shares in a trend I’ve been noting in other supernatural horror films from predominantly Muslim nations: using the language of major American horror movies (particularly the Conjuring and Paranormal Activity franchises) to present both conflicts and reinforcement of faith. The ones I have watched ranged from good to awful. I’m glad to report that Warda falls on the better spectrum of that range.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Tunisia

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Enjoy these two bits of delightful creepery from Tunisia, the country that has brought you Tattooine among other famed cinematic settings!

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Around the World in 31 Days: Netherlands

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From The Netherlands, here is what I guess you call a “creepy pasta”: Stalked, by Cas Van Doornik (check out his YouTube channel.)

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Around the World in 31 Days: Austria

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The lovely folks at The United Nations of Horror produce great things, including a very entertaining podcast on horror cinema. You should follow them and listen to their every word. When I informed them on their Facebook page (a fun and very welcoming horror fan community) that Around the World in 31 Days would be my theme for this year’s Halloween blog project, they were quick to suggest Austrian film Angst. And here I am to take us through this stark, ugly, realist beast.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Pakistan

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It’s official: James Wan’s Conjuringverse has set its stamp on global horror cinema. A lot of the foreign horror films coming across my streaming platforms are taking the formula of haunted abodes, nuclear family, demonic evil and resolution by faith, and placing it within their own cultural context. At least that’s how it seems to me; hopefully I’m wrong and there’s a wealth of horror cinema telling all kinds of different stories.

To my highly-limited knowledge horror movies from Pakistan are rare, and I was happy to checkout Pari, currently streaming on Netflix.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Cuba

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Capture

I remember very distinctly reading this 1987 New York Times blurb on the Cuban animated film ¡Vampiros En La Habana!. And in the years from 1985 to 1990, vampires had turned the corner, for me, from something to fear (yes, I was very much afraid of Dracula and his brethren as a child) to something alluring and powerful. “The Vampire Lestat” was ubiquitous on the bestseller lists, The Lost Boys promised a world of eternal youth and rock and roll, and the Marvel graphic novel “Greenberg the Vampire” was an erotic fever dream I couldn’t comprehend but just went blam in my hormone-addled seventeen year-old mind.

I had thought all the while that Vampires in Havana was one of those sexy Nelvana adult animated movies, like Heavy Metal, Fire and Ice, or American Pop. But I finally took it in this, the year 2019, and discovered its a goofy, weird stylized film, with sophomoric sex and some terrific music.

And then there’s the Cuban revolution. Continue reading

Around the World in 31 Days: South Korea

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Gokseong, or The Wailing (2016) has been staring at me from my Netflix queue for the better part of two years. It came to my attention from correspondence with the academics behind the book Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema, who seek to catalogue every instance of an exorcism scene in a feature film. At 2.5 hours of running time, it was always daunting to start it, but it is worth the time.

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